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Leo Baeck Institute New York

"At the Threshold: German-Yiddish Encounters and

Missed Encounters in Weimar Berlin"

Wednesday, January 3, 2024 2PM EST (Online) 

Berlin between the World Wars was a vibrant yet unstable cultural hub where German-Jewish writers crossed paths with Yiddish migrant writers. Did the meeting of so-called “Ostjuden” and “Westjuden" in Germany’s first fledgling democracy produce opportunities for cultural cross-fertilization, or did it amount to a missed encounter between two disconnected groups? This talk explores the role of Weimar Berlin as a “threshold” between exile and homeland in which “eastern” and “western” writers looked toward one another in their efforts to both cultivate new forms of artistic expression and negotiate national commitments.

Melton International
"Shtetl Fabulous"

Thursdays, October 19, 26, November 2, 9, 7:00PM-8:30PM EST

The shtetl (Yiddish for “small town”) is one of the most recognized symbols of Jewish life in Eastern Europe before the Holocaust. But what exactly was it? Since the mid-nineteenth century, Yiddish writers have mythologized, mocked, and memorialized the shtetl. In this four-session course, explore literary representations of the shtetl ranging from the sublime to the ridiculous. How has the shtetl been portrayed, and why does it still have such a strong hold on the Jewish imagination?


Melton International
"Shalom Berlin! Germany's Most Jewish City"

Wednesday, August 16, 2023, 2PM - 3:15PM

Berlin, the place where “The Final Solution to the Jewish Question” was conceived, has been likened to a phoenix rising from the ashes. Historically, Berlin was a magnet for Jewish newcomers, particularly from Eastern Europe, until Hitler’s rise to power put an abrupt end to that era. Since reunification and the fall of communism, the city has once again become an alluring destination for Israelis and Jews from the former Soviet Union. How did this happen? Is Berlin becoming a Jewish center once again? Discover the storied past and captivating transformation of Jewish Berlin with expert guide Dr. Rachel Seelig. Through an exciting exploration of literature, art, and even food, uncover Berlin’s rich Jewish heritage as it rises anew today.


Melton International
"Yiddish - Wanted Dead or Alive"

Did Yiddish culture survive after the Holocaust? Where? Who was responsible for sustaining it? Why is there renewed interest in Yiddish today?

Monday, March 20, 2023, 1PM - 2PM EST


Limmud Toronto 2021
"'That's my Sipur: Jewish Literature and Multilingualism" 
Sunday, 12pm, November 21, 2021 (Online)


Until fairly recently, the majority of Jews spoke, thought and wrote in more than one language. Since the late nineteenth century, the development of modern Jewish literature, especially in Hebrew and Yiddish, was in many ways defined by multilingual tensions. Today, however, Jews are increasingly monolingual, and rely on translation to gain access to Jewish heritage languages. So what does it mean to raise a multilingual Jewish child today? In this lecture, literary history intersects with personal anecdotes to explore the past, present and future of Jewish multilingualism.

Leo Baeck Institute New York
Panel Discussion: "The Jewish Renaissance in Weimar Germany"
October 20, 2021 (Online)

As the Shared History Project enters its chapter on the Weimar Republic and the beginning of National Socialism, our panelists will discuss how German-speaking Jews seized on the era of cultural freedom ushered in by the Weimar Republic to rediscover, revitalize, and transform Jewish culture and identity in a modern context. Michael Brenner (American University/Munich), Rachel Seelig (University of Toronto), and Kerry Wallach (Gettysburg College) will discuss how diverse strains of Jewish culture – religious and secular, Zionist and non-Zionist, speaking German, Yiddish, and Hebrew – found expression in arts, literature, society, and politics. Miriam Rürup (Moses Mendelssohn Center Potsdam) will chair. 


Neuberberg Holocaust Education Week
"On the Edge of the Volcano: Yiddish Literature in Berlin before the Third Reich"
Sunday, 2:30pm EST, November 1, 2020 (Online)
Sponsored by UJA Committee for Yiddish and The Toronto Workmen's Circle

When Hitler took power in Germany in 1933, he vilified the capital, Berlin, as a haven for "rootless cosmopolitans," meaning immigrants, communists, and Jews. Berlin was loathed by the Nazis for the very same reasons that it attracted Jewish newcomers, including some of the most prominent Yiddish writers of the day. For a brief yet vibrant period between the World Wars, Yiddish writers from all over Eastern Europe flocked to Berlin and transformed it into a major hub of Yiddish culture and the second largest centre of Yiddish publishing worldwide. This talk explores the rich Yiddish literary culture that flourished in exile in interwar Berlin, the conditions of its rise, and the events that led to its demise on the eve of the Third Reich.

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